Getting The Rust Out 

Posted by ETX Music in Artists, Interviews Dec 2015

We’re a roots rock band, really, but we’ll get comparisons ranging from Robert Johnson to The Civil Wars to Nirvana on the heavy stuff. There are certainly heavy blues influences, and a heavy folk/singer-songwriter nature to what we do. I spent my early to mid 20’s playing in Austin, and somehow wound up running with the blues circle, even though I wasn’t a very good blues guitarist. Along the way I started playing resonators, which afforded me a contrary approach to what the other guys were doing, and it became my niche to a degree, or at least what I was really comfortable with. Still, my heart is in folk music and songwriting. I’ve always wanted to do an album true to that genre, and perhaps one day we will. I’m fortunate to have a very flexible group of bandmates. 

Our performance is intense, especially when the whole band is present. We make a strong attempt to convey passion and emotion on stage. I’m a pretty introverted person, so I do my best to not be too chatty and awkward. I like to leave that to the folks that are good at it. As The Rust, we’ve recently become a four piece, and Stacey Steger is great at providing comic relief and filling in for my inadequacies there. I like to let her do the talking. We’ve also been fortunate to have material that translates well to a variety of situations. We’ve been able to play the same set of songs in both intimate, acoustic settings and big rock shows, which has allowed us to keep things fresh and interesting, both for ourselves and our audience.

Ryan Paul Davis and Adam Lamar

Ryan Paul Davis and Adam Lamar

This is certainly unpredictable, but with that comes a large degree of spontaneity, and it’s the spontaneity that most of us love as artists. I’m not sure that you can have one without the other, and I think you learn to embrace that trade-off, or we’ve had to, at least. That being said, we’ve certainly had our share of memorable experiences. We used to tour in a ’74 Chevy Argosy, which was a really wonderful old motor home, and we used to pack 4 or 5 (or more) people in there, when it was a vehicle that was really comfortable with 2 or 3 max. After we’d load all the equipment in, we’d end up with guys sitting on amps and sleeping on the floor, probably afraid a guitar case would fall on them in the middle of the night. We’d have to park this massive vehicle in some cramped space in downtown Houston or Austin, and then find a truck stop or Wal-Mart parking lot after the show. We had some great times in that old bus. Like a lot of bands, we have other great stories (and even better ones) too, but most are best told in private, and some I’ll just have to take with me to the grave. 

Sharing the Stage 

Over the years, I’ve had the good fortune of sharing the stage and meeting some prominent acts, wonderful musicians and really good people, such as Bob Schneider, Gary Clark Jr., Ian Moore, Malford Milligan, Hubert Sumlin and G.E. Smith. Some of the local artists that I really admire and respect for their music, character, and work ethic are Ramoth Gilead, Clint Alford and Ian Chandler of The Kid Icarus Project, and Wil Willoughby and Josh McGee of The Otis Jones Project. We’re fortunate to have developed some really fantastic friendships through music over the years with these musicians. Chance meetings in Austin also led to long term relationships with both Christopher Rains, whom I toured and recorded with, and Stacey Steger, my wife and current bandmate. 

Venues and Festivals 

There are so many great venues that stand out to me. Pioneer Pub in, LA stands out as one where Chris Rains and I had some really stellar shows. We also used to have some great nights a few years back at Headliners in Nacogdoches, especially with Stacey’s band that I was playing guitar with before The Rust was created. Both of those are not what you would typically think of as major music venues, but we’ve had some really magical nights there. Pancho & Lefty’s in Hare, TX no longer exists, but it was a great out of the way place with spectacular owners. We recently played in Shreveport at Bears on Fairfield, and it’s a renovated spot that’s run by a group of musicians that really care about the bands. For us, a lot of our experience comes down to the relationships we build with the management/ownership, and we’ve been fortunate to meet a lot of wonderful people along the way that really care about the music they’re bringing in. 

With regard to festivals, I think my most memorable experience is probably The Red, White, and Blues Fest in Austin. We were the house band for the VIP after-party at Nuno’s downtown on 6th. A lot of the great blues legends that played the festival during the day would get up on stage with us and improv. It’s a pretty unforgettable moment when you’re standing next to and playing with guys like G.E. Smith and Hubert Sumlin. 

Musical Exchanges 

Our current band lineup, with Adam Lamar, Stacey Steger, and Thomas Elam, is certainly the most enjoyable I’ve experienced thus far. Of course, Stacey and I have worked with Adam off and on for about seven years now, so that goes a long way. You really build a lot of trust during that time. Thomas Elam is our newest member, and we’re extremely excited to work with him. He’s an excellent musician with a great ear, great ideas, and a really strong work ethic. The best part about this band is that we can all sit in a room and relax and not even talk about music, necessarily. We’re genuinely friends as much as we are band mates. Coming from a place where I’ve had “hired hands” in the past, this is far more preferable and undoubtedly more sustainable long-term. 
Christopher Rains and my father, Paul Davis, are also musicians that I’ve enjoyed working with. Chris played cello with me for many years and is one of the most passionate and artistic musicians I’ve ever been around. My father is an accomplished singer/songwriter, guitarist and pianist, and working with him, whether live or in a recording project, is always an incredible experience. 

Working and Recording with Adam Lamar 

Adam is an incredible person, first and foremost, and Stacey and I are truly blessed to have him as a friend. As a musician, he is one of the most creative individuals I know. Very outside the box, but at the same time, he’s such a polished musician that he’ll never make suggestions that are not within the overall vision of the project. He’s a multi-instrumentalist, and played both the bass and drum tracks on the Blood of My Kin album and on much of the full-length we’re about to release. He has a singer-songwriter background, and I think that gives him a strong understanding of where Stacey and I are coming from with a lot of the songs. You really couldn’t have a better band mate. He’s completely unselfish, yet any of the really good ideas that we have sonically can probably be attributed to Adam in one way or another. 

Recording Projects 

We have two albums that we’ll be releasing soon, actually. One is specifically Stacey’s album, and is a collection of her songs that we did prior to forming The Rust. It’s an EP, and is in the mastering stage right now. The second is a full-length album that will represent the merging of Stacey’s songs with my own, which was the original purpose of this band. We’re tracking it right now, with roughly 70% of it complete. We’re very excited about the release of both projects. 

We’re very much a DIY band when it comes to recording. That all began when I was younger and couldn’t afford to pay anyone else, and probably shouldn’t have anyhow, based on the quality of the material I had at the time. Still, I wanted a tangible product, so I slowly acquired gear and taught myself how to use it. Now we’re pretty self-sufficient when it comes to recordings, and have built a respectable studio over the years. I’ve done several recording projects for others as well, and continue to do them on occasion. Adam also has a pretty extensive studio background, which is very helpful. Lately we’ve worked with Brian Cotton at Toybox Music in Shreveport. He’s done some of the mixing and mastering for our current projects and does fantastic work. 

On Down the Road 

We’re really excited about Stacey’s EP and The Rust album that will quickly follow. It’s been our goal for quite some time to merge Stacey’s music with mine, and to see that finally come to fruition will be really satisfying. We hope to be able to continue along that path in the future. Aside from the recordings, we’re looking forward to getting back to touring and doing a lot of regional work. We took a considerable break on that end, and it’ll be exciting to be back on the road again on a regular basis, especially with new material and a new band. 

And another Thing 

Don’t be afraid to get in touch with us online. We’re therustband.com and also on Facebook. More importantly, continue to support local and regional music and those who help it survive. There are a lot of great musicians and bands out there, many of whom are local; probably even right down the street. Support those guys, because what they’re doing is likely far more genuine than anything that television, mainstream radio, or any of the other popular avenues constantly push in front of us. Genuine, creative music is not really that hard to find. We just may have to look a little closer to home to find it. 

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